THE ACOUSTIC GUITAR OF JORMA KAUKONEN (Homespun Video, 90 minutes) Intended to teach fans of Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane how the lead guitarist performs his blues-based fingerpicking, this covers runs, chord shapes, right-hand picking, vibrato, string bends, double-time patterns and much more. Several songs are demonstrated including "I Know You Rider," "Water Song" and "San Francisco Bay Blues." While definitely intended for guitar students, this is also of interest to Jorma's many fans.

THE ARISTOCATS (Walt Disney Home Video, 79 minutes) This animated classic is about a family of cats who become desirable for the wrong reasons after their owner dies and leaves them a fortune. The cats get kidnapped but take their future into their own hands and go off to hang out with other cats. Don't miss this if you're a cat lover! It's been one of the rarer, lesser-known Disney films. I'd never seen it before this limited video release but it reminded me of 101 Dalmatians. Very heartwarming.

BEAUTIFUL GIRLS (Miramax Home Entertainment) Matt Dillon, Timothy Hutton, Rosie O'Donnell and Uma Thurman star in this comedy about a group of friends who reunite for a high school reunion. It's about relationships and the importance of beauty versus substance. Well done.

BEFORE AND AFTER (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 108 minutes) Meryl Streep and Liam Nelson star in this suspense film about a family who learn their teenage son is suspected of killing a girl he was dating without their knowledge. They hire a lawyer and then one by one each member of the family does things to affect the case which work against the lawyer's strategy. The film raises deep questions about how well we really know our own family members, about how people can be expected to react in a crisis and about how unpredictable the law can be. Highly recommended.

BIG BULLY (Warner Home Video) Lots of big name actors star in this comedy about a bully and his victim who are reunited once again as adults. Now they are both teachers and have children who get dragged into the feud and ultimately make them resolve it. Tom Arnold stars as the bully, Rick Moranis plays the victim, and the supporting cast includes Julianne Phillips, Carol Kane and Don Knotts. More believable than many comedies, this is particularly touching if you were ever picked on as a child.

BLOOD & DONUTS (Live Entertainment, 89 minutes) Vampires are the theme here in this horror film about a vampire who wakes up from a 27-year-old nap. He meets and falls for a waitress in the local donut shop. Worth seeing if you like vampire films, but this one offers nothing special.

BOTTLE ROCKET (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 91 minutes) There are differences between amateur and professional criminals and those lines are explored in this film about three friends who pull small-time jobs until they meet someone who can plan larger heists. Stars James Caan as the local "godfather" and three newcomers as the apprentices. Well done.

THE CAT'S MEOW (Brentwood Home Video, 30 minutes) Cat lovers will melt as they watch this assortment of cats and kittens filmed at cat shows and playing at home. There are pedigrees, alley cats, talented cats, curious cats and, of course, many cute cats. My own cats were intrigued watching this. They sat on the bed and stared at the TV, occasionally meowing which they rarely do. A companion video exists for dog fans too.

CELTIC PRIDE (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 90 minutes) I expected to hate this comedy when I saw it was about basketball, but I was pleasantly surprised. Dan Aykroyd, Daniel Stern and Damon Wayans star in this film about two Boston Celtic fans who kidnap a player on the opposing team to help the Celtics win the championship. He eventually escapes and makes them pay. Well worth seeing, even if you hate sports as I do.

CHILDREN OF THE CORN IV (Dimension Home Video, 85 minutes) Like most horror film sequels, this one has little to do with its originator, Stephen King. It's about a town where the children become murderers every few years and the townspeople and visitors who become victims. This one had more gore than plot as might be expected since its the third sequel. If you liked the others you'll love this one too, but if you like special effects or engrossing character development in your horror films this will utterly bore you.

CITY HALL (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 111 minutes) Al Pacino, John Cusack, Bridget Fonda and Danny Aiello star in this political drama about a mayor, his aide and the people they cut deals with to make the city survive, thrive and progress. Deals with the gray areas of not being able to do your job and shows how and why corruption occurs. Worth seeing.

THE CRAFT (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 109 minutes) Although it takes some liberties with the powers of the occult, this film about four high school girls who dabble with witchcraft is very well done. Overall, this will probably make many viewers more curious about the occult. There's lots of realism in the portrayal of the high school students' behavior. Worth seeing, especially if you are interested in magic or are a fan of films like Heathers.

DENISE CALLS UP (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 87 minutes) This film deals with several friends whose entire friendship is spent on the phone as they chat while typing on their laptops and squeeze calls into their busy days. Makes strong but subtle statements about relationships and how busy and isolated we have all become.

DIABOLIQUE (Warner Home Video) Sharon Stone and Kathy Bates star in this thriller about a wife and a mistress who conspire to murder the husband. He survives and it's later revealed the real target was the wife. The mistress has a last minute change of heart and so the plot twists and turns while Stone's superb acting keeps you riveted. It's not her best role, but she makes everything she's in shine.

DON'T BE A MENACE (Miramax Home Entertainment) This spoof on Black "Hood" films stars Marlon Wayans, Keenan Ivory Wayans and Shawn Wayans. I found parts of this hilarious and other parts very poignant. Very well done as might be expected from the creator of In Living Color. If these films are a genre now, although quite different from the Black exploitation films of the 1970s, then this film is by far the best of the lot. Worth seeing.

ERASER (Warner Home Video) Although I'm hardly a fan or Arnold Schwarzenegger's, this film has a plot intriguing enough to interest me anyway. Arnold plays an eraser who works for the FBI's Witness Protection program and it is his job to make a witness vanish and be reborn again at a new location with a new identity. He's especially good at what he does and gets assigned only the Bureau's toughest cases. Good plot and believable acting make this a winner.

EXECUTIVE DECISION (Warner Home Video) I first saw this in the theater, in one of those situations where four people plan to go to the movies and three of them want to see one thing and you don't. They won and I was never so happy to be wrong about a film and forced to see something I'd have preferred to skip. Kurt Russell and Steven Seagal star in this action thriller about a bomb on a plane. Yes, the plot's been done before, but never like this! This is a totally absorbing film. It's believable, it's scary and it's engrossing. I watched it again as soon as it hit video. Great screenplay, great acting and even a great ending. Highly recommended even for people who'd usually pass on this type of film.

FRENCH TWIST (Miramax Home Entertainment, 100 minutes) Subtitles turn me off, but I found myself sitting through all of this sexy comedy about a wife who has been cheated on. She has a fling with a lesbian when the opportunity arises, and moves the woman into her home. The husband is slow to come around to the idea but eventually even agrees to father a child for the lesbian. This is pretty well done for a movie, and while lesbians are insulted here they are also demystified and treated fairly. Says a lot about why people have affairs, how they can cause pain and about some of the differences between men and women.

HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS (Dimension Home Video, 88 minutes) This sequel to the popular horror series explores a slightly different theme. Here Michael, the killer, turns out to be alive and to have been kept hidden for several years. He now has a child and comes back along with another original character, Dr. Loomis, played by Donald Pleasence. Worth seeing if you like the series, but offers nothing special in terms of originality or special effects when compared to other recent horror films.

THE HEMP REVOLUTION (Tara Releasing, 72 minutes 415-454-5838) Uses for hemp in printing and medicine, as well as an exploration of why the drug remains illegal, are the focus of this documentary. Useful for classrooms, entertainment purposes and to send as a gift to legislators, this film does a good job of making you feel marijuana should be decriminalized. Most impressive was the testimony from paper manufacturers about the reliability of hemp paper and the need for alternatives to killing trees, as well as the footage from other countries where hemp grows wild and where it is used to make clothing as well as for food. Worth seeing if you are a social smoker, but especially if you still think the battle is really only about saving young people from experimenting with drugs.

HOMEWARD BOUND II: LOST IN SAN FRANCISCO (Walt Disney Home Video, 89 minutes) This sequel reunites all three of the pets who get lost and must travel in order to find their human family again. This time the family has moved to San Francisco and the pets need to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, avoid dognappers who want to sell them to a lab and deal with one of the dogs who falls in love with a stray and isn't so sure he wants to go back home again. It's as heartwarming as the first film, although the plot is a bit more predictable, and animal lovers of all ages should be sure not to miss this.

HOW THE WEST WAS FUN (Warner Home Video) Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen star with Martin Mull in this film about two kids who visit a dude ranch and discover a woman's son is trying to cause her financial ruin to benefit himself. Lots of cute kids, western gear, corporate politics and a predictable happy ending. Worth seeing if you enjoy watching the twins who are best known for their work in the TV sitcom Full House.

IF LUCY FELL (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 102 minutes) Sarah Jessica Parker, Elle Macpherson and Eric Schaeffer star in this superb romantic comedy about two friends who make a pact to commit suicide by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge at age 30 if they are not happily married or involved with someone great. As the date nears, the two friends must take stock of their lives and where analyze where their relationships have gone and are going. Predictable ending, but worth seeing anyway.

JACK & SARAH (PolyGram Video, 110 minutes) A man's wife dies in childbirth, leaving him to care for his newborn infant. So he hires a nanny, but mistreats her after she moves in with him and leaves a female presence him his still-healing household. Ultimately he realizes he has fallen in love again despite himself. This warm-hearted romantic tale stars Richard E. Grant and Samantha Mathis.

KEROUAC (Mystic Fire Video, 73 minutes) The life of writer Jack Kerouac is explored in this documentary. Included are interviews with Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and others, as well as clips from television interviews Kerouac did with Steve Allen and William Buckley. Worth seeing if you are a fan, or a discouraged writer interested in seeing what Kerouac went through before being able to earn a living through his writing.

KIDS IN THE HALL: BRAIN CANDY (Paramount Home Video, 89 minutes) This comedy focuses on the invention and rushed release of a new happiness drug, Gleemonex. The film explores the new drug's marketing, and its effects on and transformation of the people who consume it. As some of them start to fall into comas, the drug's inventor tries to stop his own creation. Very well done and worth seeing if you like the comedy troupe, use drugs or enjoy lighthearted comedies.

LAST DANCE (Touchstone Home Video, 103 minutes) Sharon Stone stars in this gripping drama about a female convict scheduled to be executed and the man assigned to be in charge of her case. The ending is not entirely predictable and the acting and script are first-rate. Don't miss this!

LAST MAN STANDING (PM Entertainment Group, Inc.) Cops and robbers is the theme here as a bank robber battles the police and turns out to have friends in high places who assist him. Lots of guns, chase scenes and explosive fires with a hunt that becomes personal to the officer in charge. Stars Jeff Wincott and will appeal more to those who like lots of action scenes than a unique plot or big name stars.

THE LAST SUPPER (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 104 minutes) This very gray film involves a group of graduate students who get together for dinner and debate once a week. One night they commit murder and then decide to begin inviting dinner guests who deserve to be murdered for their political beliefs. Stars Jason Alexander, Nora Dunn, Mark Harmon, Charles Durning and Ron Perlman. Worth seeing with someone else for the debate you'll have after seeing this.

LIFEFORCE (Live Entertainment, 90 minutes) In the footsteps of Aliens and Species comes this sci-fi film about a creature who lands on Earth and baffles the military. An entire office is put under quarantine and must deal not only with containing the creature while they try to learn from it, but must deal with their own conflicts with each other and how to survive in a sudden crisis. Great special effects, as you can imagine. The creatures get better and better, while the plots stay pretty much the same.

MRS. WINTERBOURNE (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 106 minutes) Shirley MacLaine, Ricki Lake and Brendan Fraser star in this romantic comedy about a rich woman who essentially adopts an unwed mother after a train wreck, mistakingly believing she is her daughter-in-law after her son and real daughter-in-law were killed in the wreck. Very endearing, uplifting and certainly worth seeing.

MULTIPLICITY (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 120 minutes) Michael Keaton and Andie MacDowell star in this comedy about a guy who just can't find enough time for both work and family. He has himself cloned, hoping that by having several of him around there'll be enough of him to be everywhere at once. He neglects, however, to plan for mistakes the clones might make and the scriptwriters did a great job with creating creative situations the clones have to face with no warning. Good acting and special effects, but it's thanks to a great script that this film works.

NATURAL BORN KILLERS: DIRECTOR'S CUT (Vidmark Entertainment, 182 minutes) This landmark film went through several movie companies before winding up here. Vidmark did the job right, pulling no punches and adding over an hour of bonus footage. There's also narration by Director Oliver Stone and a behind-the-scenes making-of-the-film special too. Fans of the movie will not want to miss this, and those who haven't yet seen this gray film (which stars Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey, Jr. and Tommy Lee Jones) are advised to choose this version of it to see.

NO CONTEST (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 98 minutes) Andrew Dice Clay, Robert Davi and Shannon Tweed star in this action film about a beauty contest whose contestants get taken hostage by a group of terrorists. The police stand outside trying to free the hostages while the terrorists kill them and blow up cars to make the seriousness of their demands felt. Not bad for its genre, this actually has a female lead save the day.

OUR CENTURY: 1958-1980 (Central Park Media, 110 minutes) Part of a series on American History, this tape focuses on the politics, fashion, music and news events that shaped the Baby Boom generation. From the Beatles to Nixon to the assassination of Kennedy, it's all here. Not too much time is spent on any one event or issue and those who are too young to remember the 1960s will enjoy this brief, colorful look at it. I wanted to see it for the coverage of rock music and was not disappointed, although I found myself liking some of the included political segments better.

THE PALLBEARER (Miramax Home Entertainment, 93 minutes) This comedy is about a nice guy who gets asked to be a pallbearer for a high school friend whom he is certain he never knew. Rather than offend the hysterical mother, he agrees to do it and becomes closer and closer to her in the weeks that follow. Meanwhile, he runs into a woman he had a crush on in high school and begins seeing her too. The romantic triangle stars David Schwimmer, Gwyneth Paltrow and Barbara Hershey. Cute.

PRIMAL FEAR (Paramount Home Video, 130 minutes) Richard Gere stars as a top-notch defense attorney who takes on the case of an altar boy accused of murdering the local archbishop. Gere is superb and this is one of the best performances of his career. The script is well done too, and keeps you hanging until the end. Highly recommended both for fans of Gere and for fans of the legal process.

PUBLIC ENEMIES (Vidmark Entertainment, 90 minutes) Gangsters Ma Barker and her sons are the subject of this film which stars Alyssa Milano, Eric Roberts and Theresa Russell. The focus here is on a sympathetic portrayal of the gangsters and a recreation of how they committed their crimes and outran the FBI for so long. Much better than you'd think, this film is well worth seeing if true crime interests you at all.

RED RIBBONS (Water Bearer Films, 62 minutes) Retired adult film actress Georgina Spelvin stars along with Quentin Crisp in this film about a theater group that has lost its leader to AIDS. They gather together to remember him and to await a visit from his mother who abandoned him when she learned he was gay (played by Spelvin). This probably has limited appeal to those not interested in AIDS, homosexual or the theater. It's well done though, is very pro-gay, and is worth seeing if you'd like to increase your understanding of other people's lifestyles or of how people cope with losing a friend or colleague to AIDS.

SCORCHING HOT SEXXX (Private Moments #295 available from G.R.G. Enterprises (847) 657-9055, 60 minutes) This amateur, X-rated adult film involves a couple where the male partner is a long-haired musician. Both people are tattooed and the female appears to have had implants. They rented a hotel room to make this video and while an unseen cameraman films them they engage in over a half dozen sexual positions. Well done technically and clearly less faked than most mainstream adult films, this had less kissing and foreplay than I'd expect from a real couple. I wonder whether the market demands strictly hard action or whether this couple downplayed it on this one occasion.

SCREAMERS (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 118 minutes) This sci-fi action thriller stars Peter Weller, Roy Dupuis and Jennifer Rubin. It's about a man assigned to protect others from ravage and plunder through the use of Screamers. Screamers are manmade killing devices which travel underground and shriek right before they attack their prey. They mutate in human form and, of course, must be stopped. Lots of good special effects and a story line that works better than I've been able to describe it. Worth seeing if you enjoyed films like Alien, Tremors or Total Recall.

SIREN (Wolfe Video, 45 minutes) This erotic lesbian fantasy drama was made by women for women. It's not an adult film, but it does deal with a character who writes erotic fiction and does have some sex scenes. Very different, both in point of view and photographic style. Worth seeing if lesbianism interests you or if you like feminist films.

SOFT DECEIT (Turner Home Entertainment, 95 minutes) Kate Vernon and Patrick Bergin star in this thriller about a very savvy criminal who eludes the law, the church and the mob and then gets released in a deal with law enforcement only to elude the law again. Vernon plays the cop who makes the deal and then falls for Bergin and ends up siding with and helping him. Good plot and one of her better roles. Definitely worth seeing.

SOUTH BEACH ACADEMY (Live Entertainment, 91 minutes) Adult film star Ron Jeremy has a role in this film which also stars Corey Feldman and Al Lewis. It's about two brothers who try to save the beach school one of them works at. Lots of babes, bikinis and water sports. Well done for its genre, but not for when you are in the mood for a film with deep meaning to it.

STRIPTEASE (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 116 minutes) Demi Moore stars in this film about a desperate woman involved in a custody battle who turns to stripping in order to raise some fast cash to use to fund her case. Moore was reportedly paid 12 million dollars to appear nude in the film and her acting here was worth every penny. Burt Reynolds and Armand Assante also star but are far less compelling. Worth seeing as one of the best examples of Hollywood's portrayals of stripping.

THE SUBSTITUTE (Live Entertainment, 114 minutes) A high school teacher is married to a mercenary and after she is beaten by some of her students he becomes their substitute teacher. The entire school is corrupt, with even the principal working hand in hand with gang leaders to sell drugs and trying to stop the substitute teacher from breaking it up at all costs. Tom Berenger, Ernie Hudson and Diane Venora star in this action film which has some violence, of course, but much more plot and character development than much of its genre offers. Worth seeing.

SUNSET PARK (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 99 minutes) Rhea Perlman stars in this terrific film about a white female basketball coach stuck with a team of black males who come from the streets. Along with a soundtrack featuring today's top black artists, this has a solid plot designed to cut across racial, sexual and generational boundaries. Worth seeing.

SURVIVORS OF THE HOLOCAUST (Turner Home Entertainment, 70 minutes) In making Schindler's List, Steven Spielberg, like most of his counterparts, did extensive and intensive research, including interviewing survivors, learning from each one, and getting their help in figuring out what did actually happen, where, what the place looked like, etc. All of this went into Shindler's List. Others would have stopped right there, but not Spielberg. He believed that it was essential to create a computerized file of interviews and data from survivors of the holocaust, and not just what they went through then but also what has been their lot since then. Most of them are senior citizens, with many really old now, which meant getting to work on it now or never.

He did it, with the help of a large staff including programmers, interviewers (and those who trained them and the development of an interviewing technique, style, etc.), technical people for everything from the computers to the lighting in people's homes, And people working in all the languages the survivors speak: German, Yiddish, Hungarian, Russian, Italian, Greek, French, Dutch, and, of course, English and Hebrew, for those who have adapted the languages of the countries they have lived in now for almost fifty years.

This done, the work had to be publicized, essentially via show and tell, so he made two more movies, this time short ones, being marketed on this single videotape. The first describes the concept, the project , which is still going on, and the ultimate purpose, education, so that it will never happen again to anybody anywhere. Between the narrator (Spielberg) and the audience (us) is Ben Kingsley, serving as host and asking all the right questions, making useful observations, and eliciting detailed information on how the interviews were done, how collected, and clear, fascinating information about the structure, composition and use of the data base and the capabilities of the computers, what they do, how, why...

The second movie presents some of the survivors, with their spouses and children, in comfortable homes, surrounded by love, but still deeply affected by what happened to them that took control of their lives and selves. These are real people, not actors who smile or weep on cue. Some are the sole survivors of large families; others made it through with one or two relatives or close friends, and some really did find a relative alive somewhere when it was all over.

In these testimonies, one is moved by the pain and suffering, and by the difficulty for children without families to develop a positive sense of identity and self esteem. But one is also struck by the resilience of these otherwise ordinary people--people who are like the rest of us, almost. Questions arise that a study like this may ultimately be able to answer, because it will be possible, and perhaps already is, to check one interview against another or compare group with group, and look at bits of data among all the individuals to see in what ways the survivors differed from those who did not survive. Were they really all stronger? Was it the physical strength plus or minus something else? What kind of work have they done since, and what kind during and before WWII? Are there common denominators?

Many questions remain to be answered and to be asked. Take a look at this videotape, bearing in mind that the events that changed their lives took place when they were about the age of many of the readers of this magazine. You can help Spielberg in this effort. If you know someone who is a survivor of the holocaust, including those who were not in concentration camps--children living incognito or in hiding, adults or whole families successfully hidden without being betrayed, those who were in ghettos, and members of the underground, urge them to become part of this project, to be counted, and remembered, and to be informative and to testify, forever, by themselves via their inclusion now on Spielberg's list. All it takes is a phone call to the Shoah Foundation at 800-661-2092 (U.S. and Canada) or 818-777-7802 (everywhere else). (Carolyn Gilboa)

TALES OF EROTICA (Vidmark Entertainment, 103 minutes) Four notable film directors, Ken Russell, Melvin Van Peebles, Susan Seidelman and Bob Rafaelson, each produce an erotic segment for this erotic compilation. The segments portray a woman who escapes into a painting, a motorcycle which becomes a dream lover when driven, a hot-tub salesman seduced by a customer and a man who follows a woman because he is seduced by the noises he hears coming from her room. Although none of these turned me on, they are each unique and well done. Worth seeing if you are a fan of sex in art.

TIMEPIECE (Water Bearer Films, 58 minutes) Seven gay men in San Francisco get together for a surprise 30th birthday party for one of the group. Their fictional conversation, about everything from coming out to living with AIDS to finding true love, deals with central issues in the lives of gay men and has relevancy to heterosexuals too. This is very well done and definitely worth seeing.

TURN UP THE VOLUME (Brentwood Home Video, 50 minutes) The first six volumes of this rock and roll video magazine series include unique and exclusive footage of rock stars ranging from Megadeth to Soundgarden to Kiss. Nina Blackwood hosts the tapes which have segments that run approximately ten minutes each with artists like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Lita Ford, Ozzy Osborne, Jon Anderson, Mr. Big, Sass Jordan and Ugly Kid Joe. These are very well done and worth owning if you like even a few of the bands included.

TWO MUCH (Touchstone Home Video, 117 minutes) Antonio Banderas stars as a thief who makes his living by showing up at funerals and trying to get the family to pay for artwork the deceased supposedly purchased shortly before his death. One of his sales backfires, and in the process of ducking the family member who wants to beat him up for trying to cheat them he meets Melanie Griffith. She decides she wants to marry him and begins making plans before he even knows her. Her sister, played by Daryl Hannah, quickly complicates the arrangement as does Banderas himself when he reinvents himself as his twin brother in order to propose to Daryl Hannah whom he finds himself wanting more than Griffith. Good acting, although the plot is a bit unbelievable.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL (Touchstone Home Video, 124 minutes) Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer star in this terrific film about two journalists who work together and fall in love. Redford gives one of his best performances ever as Pfeiffer's mentor and the film delves into the problems of a dual-career couple as well as some of the harsh realities behind the camera in the world of TV news. This is a must-see film which continues to offer plot twists until the very end which were not predictable from the film's outset.

WAVELENGTH (Paramount Home Video, 94 minutes) A Physics professor at Oxford has romantic problems with both his wife and his mistress. Stars Jeremy Piven, Kelli Williams and Sir Richard Attenborough. He's got four weeks to further Einstein's research, but his mind is elsewhere and his lovers are out to sabotage his work.

WILLIE WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (Warner Home Video) This 25th anniversary edition of the film features a remastered version with a stereo soundtrack. Gene Wilder stars as the eccentric owner of a candy company who allows several contest winners in to tour his company. The film focuses on who the winners are, the tour itself and the lessons learned by each character when the tour does not go as planned. This is mandatory viewing for all ages which will delight and entertain you at least once. Some of the candy developed to promote the film is still sold today at convenience stores and is worth looking for after you've seen the film.